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Film Review: Trite ‘Woman in Gold’ Lacks a Compelling Story

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CHICAGO – The horrors of the Holocaust have been expressed in cinematic art through many angles. “Woman in Gold” takes another track, that of restoring a work of art that was stolen from a Jewish family in Austria. The legal maneuverings, however, lacks a sense that this is victorious.

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 2.5/5.0
Rating: 2.5/5.0

The story – based on true events – simply isn’t told interestingly enough, or maybe there just wasn’t enough power in the situation in the first place to expand it into a movie. All the gravitas is there, including Helen Mirren as the old Austrian immigrant, who lives in Los Angeles in the 1990s, fighting to restore some dignity to her family by reclaiming their work of art. One of the two main characters are miscast, and the flashbacks to Austria circa World War II era adds no depth to the contemporary portion of the story – it probably could have been handled without the flashbacks. The truth of the story comes down to ownership and the profit from that ownership, both for the country of Austria and the ex-citizen who tragically lost relatives during the Holocaust era. Is there a winner?

An older Austrian immigrant, Maria Altmann (Helen MIrren), is the only surviving relative of her Jewish family from the old country after her sister dies. In going through her sibling’s effects, she finds some letters that remind her of a painting that was created by famed Austrian artist Gustav Klimt, “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer.” Bauer was her aunt, and her uncle commissioned the painting, which was owned by her family and hung in their Austrian home in the pre-World War II years.

The painting was stolen from her family during the Nazi invasion of Austria in 1938, and ends up owned by an Austrian museum. In contemporary 1998, Maria enlists the services of lawyer named Randol Schoenberg (Ryan Reynolds), himself a relative of Austrian Holocaust victims. Even though he risks his new job in a prestigious law firm, the pair travel to Vienna, to restore the rightful ownership of one most famous paintings in the country.

”Woman in Gold” opens everywhere on April 1st. Featuring Helen Mirren, Ryan Reynolds, Katie Holmes, Daniel Brühl, Elizabeth McGovern, Jonathan Pryce and Antje Traue. Written by Alexi Kaye Campbell. Directed by Simon Curtis. Rated “PG-13”

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of ‘Woman in Gold”

Ryan Reynolds, Helen Mirren
Maria (Helen Mirren) and Randol (Ryan Reynolds) with the Titular Painting in ‘Woman in Gold’
Photo credit: The Weinstein Company

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of ‘Woman in Gold”

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